Archive for October, 2009

52/30/5 Week 43

October 26th, 2009

Week 43 was taken in my front yard, where the roses grow. The roses were suffering from a bit of frost recently, due to the ridiculously late start to spring we’ve been having in Canberra this year.

Rose I

Rose II

Rose III

Rose IV

Rose V

The full set is on Flickr.


52/30/5 Week 42

October 24th, 2009

Week 42 was taken with the assistance of my lovely wife, who offered her hands for my photography:

Hands I

Hands II

Hands III

Hands IV

Hands V

The full set is on Flickr.


52/30/5 Week 41

October 22nd, 2009

Week 41 was taken on the actual lake of Lake Ginninderra, mainly some passing swans.

First, some passing bird (not an ornithologist either):

Bird

A swan:

Swans I

And the swans and their cygnets:

Swans II

Swans III

Swans IV

The full set if on Flickr.


The exchange rate according to today’s Apple announcements

October 21st, 2009

Apple announced some shiny new things today. Given that the Australian dollar is around 92 cents, we’d hope for a good exchange rate. What has Apple actually done?

  • iMac 22-inch: US $1,199, AUS $1,599

  • iMac 27-inch: US $1,699, AUS $2,199

  • Mac Mini Base: US $549, AUS $849

  • MacBook: US $999, AUS $1,299

  • MagicMouse: US $69, AUS $99

  • Apple Remote: US $19, AUS $25

It’s important to remember that the US prices are before sales tax, so I’ve taken the GST (10%) off the Australian prices to work out the exchange rates.

When we do that, the exchange rate ranges from 71 cents (on the Mac Mini, which is sad because that’s the one I want to buy) to 85 cents on the MacBook. The average is pretty much 81 cents. Clearly there’s some rounding going on to hit nice price points.

Why is it so much lower? Because Apple (like most other companies) isn’t silly. They know that the exchange rate fluctuates, so they don’t set prices based on what it is this week. Rather they look at longer run averages. And if you look at the average exchange rate over the last six months (excluding October, as they would have set prices a few weeks ago) it’s also around 81 cents.


52/30/5 Week 40

October 20th, 2009

Week 40 was taken at Lake Ginninderra in Belconnen. In particular, it was a few passing bees enjoying the early sunny days of spring here.

Bee I

Bee II

Bee III

Bee IV

Bee V

The full set is on Flickr.


Comedy as myth

October 19th, 2009

Part of the recent hagiography that has grown up around George Lucas is the idea that he deliberately crafted Star Wars to reflect Joseph Campbells’ Hero with a Thousand Fces. My suggestion, in counter to this, is that Campbell’s work describes something that is so generic to story telling that you could find a comedy that fits the bill.

And so, we have Joseph Campbell’s monomyth as applied to Legally Blonde.

Departure

  • The Call to Adventure: Elle Woods is dumped by her boyfriend, and decides to go to Harvard Law School.

  • Supernatural Aid: She gets 179 on her LSATs, enough said.

  • Crossing of the First Threshold: Her arrival at Harvard, and finding that they don’t include the social calendar in the student orientation pack.

  • Refusal of the Call: After a bad first day, Elle nearly drops out of law school, before manicurist Paulette persuades her not to.

  • The Belly of the Whale: According to Campbell, “The devotee at the moment of entry into a temple undergoes a metamorphosis.” In this case, the scene where Elle buys her textbooks and laptop.

Initiation

  • The Road of Trials: The sequence of tasks to begin the transformation. In this movie, being able to answer questions in class.

  • The Meeting With the Goddess: Can’t make this one work. Although have a look at some of the gymnastics required to make Star Wars hit…

  • Apotheosis: Winning a place as an Intern for Callaghan’s firm.

  • Woman as Temptress: Here, the role of temptress is played by Callaghan in a fairly literal way, as he tries to seduce her.

  • Atonement with Father: Confrontation with Callaghan, and becoming lead counsel for Brooke.

  • The Ultimate Boon: Winning the case and defeating the forces of evil (i.e., Callaghan, Chutney and Warner).

Return

  • Refusal of the Return: This one doesn’t fit either. Although what lawyer would want to quit?

  • The Magic Flight: Again, taking over as lead counsel in the court case.

  • Rescue from Without: As Elle is without hope, Professor Stromwell helps her back onto the path.

  • The Crossing of the Return Threshold: Graduation from Law School.

There we are: Legally Blonde was inspired by the work of Joseph Campbell. Or maybe Joseph Campbell’s admirable work can apply to almost anything, and so this is just another case of George Lucas making it up as he goes along. Nothing wrong with that – but he should own up to it.

(Oh, and contrary to popular belief, there was no sequel to this movie. Why on earth would there be one – it would make no sense to have her go through the same sequence of events again).


52/30/5 Week 39

October 18th, 2009

Week 39 was a quick trip to ANU.


View Larger Map

First up, a few photos of the recent John Curtin School of Medical Research (JCSMR) building:

JCSMR I

JCSMR II

JCSMR III

And secondly, a few ducks that were wondering around Sullivan’s Creek near the School of Law:

Ducks I

Ducks II

The full set is on Flickr.


Game Review: Prince of Persia (reboot)

October 17th, 2009

[Prince of Persia](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prince_of_Persia_(2008_video_game)) is the seventh 7th game in the main Prince of Persia series, and the 12th game overall.

Spoilers in this review, so you’ll have to click through.

Read the rest of this entry »


52/30/5 Week 38

October 16th, 2009

The photos for week 38 were taken in central Canberra.


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I was mainly focusing on public sculpture around the Civic area. A strange bird statue on top of a poster stand:

Bird on Posters

Some grafitti that appears to be taken from Where the Wild Things Are:

Wild Graffiti

A metal sheep:

Metal Sheep

Another more abstract sculpture:

Sculpture

And a building that has a few Government departments in it, including the Department of Resources Energy and Tourism:

DRET Building

The full set can be found on Flickr.


Book Review: Bad Science, Ben Goldacre

October 15th, 2009

Bad Science is drawn from the Guardian column of the same name, as well as the many other things that Ben Goldacre covers on his website. The main focus is on the abuses of science that seem to proliferate in the press and on the Internet. Things such as scares over the MMR vaccine, scares over radiation from mobile phone towers, the infamous Brain Gym taught in some UK schools, and so on. Each topic is carefully examined, the faulty assumptions identified, and the real truth drawn out.

The author has a saying (available in T-Shirt form): “I think you’ll find it’s a bit more complicated than hat”. He revels in the complication. When it comes to the oft dismissed placebo effect he dives deeply into the inherent, wonderful weirdness of the placebo. If statistics are required for the explanation of something (often the case in modern medicine) he draws the details out. The combination of detail and accessibility is rare, and is a product of the author’s deep passion for the area.

It would be very easy for a book on this topic to be very depressing. There is so very much bad science out there, so many people profiting from people’s willingness to believe, and so many newspapers more than happy to put the simple answer on the front page, rather than all the footnotes. But I found the book energising, a call to action. It’s a book that brings the scope of the problem to your attention, and calls you to do something.

Of course, I don’t know a lot about science. But the book also made me think about the similar problems that are seen in journalism around economic issues in Australia (and probably elsewhere). But after reading this book I’m very tempted to start my own column on these things: Bad Economics. And that kind of result of reading a book is the sort of thing most authors would dream of.